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Are You Feeding?

Probably the most common question we get from the visitors as we work in or around the exhibits is, “Are you feeding?” People love to watch the animals eat so I think the question may be born from wishful thinking. We do have feedings for the public at 11am and 2pm on selected days, but mostly we try to feed the exhibits before we open because feeding usually clouds the water a bit afterwards. Also, some fishes are skittish and will not feed well surrounded by activity; others are being trained for a particular feeding time.

(A typical weekly food order often includes: (clockwise from top) squid, smelt, live clams, and fresh spanish mackerel.)
 The VLM houses over 100 species of both fresh and saltwater fishes of all life-stages so their diets range from flake food to whole herring.
(Atlantic herring are a staple for the saltwater fishes, fed out in chunks, fillets, or even whole)

We attempt to mimic as closely as possible what they would eat in the wild, while providing maximum variety coupled with suppliments to ensure proper nutrition. We prepare diets every day and constantly adjust the amounts as the fishes grow. Fishes that prey on other fishes in the wild, often have the ability (and the desire) to eat their exhibit-mates, so we move them often as they become too large or aggressive for a particular exhibit. We also try to keep them well-fed but not fat; it is no simple task to ensure the most passive fishes get enough food while the most aggressive do not get too much. Successful feeding and nutrition – and their ability to be housed together – relies on the fishes’ natural ecology.

(Shad roe, salvaged from fresh whole shad we ordered as a food fish, are occasionally fed out for extra nutrition.)

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